Marcus Legend is a unique guy with a unique name and a unique past. As that past has shown, he also has a unique talent for turning good fortune into bad, and getting himself into deep trouble. When his fortune hits bottom, a psyche-reader by the name of Werner visits him in prison, where he's serving a 43-year sentence for his latest misadventure. Werner offers to change his life. Mars, Earth's most distant colony, has rebelled, and Earth's attempts to put down the rebellion have been crippled by an old psychological problem that first appeared years ago with the earliest manned probes to the outer planets. A new study is in place finally to examine and maybe solve the problem, and it needs a unique volunteer. Eventually, as Terran authorities manipulate Marcus into joining the war, he finds himself on his way to Mars at the helm of Earth's premier battleship, and with his own secret agenda. Constantly haunted by his past, his last chance at good fortune could make him a hero, or seal his unlucky fate for a final time.